By: Morgan Bergie, Silhouette Intern

Hamilton is beginning to have a new outlook, as future improvements for the city are left in the hands of its citizens.

Hamilton is among the first few cities in North America to put the concept of Participatory Budgeting in place. The decisions of what is to be done are now left in the hands of its citizens. To vote, click here.

With $1.5 million at their disposal, the residents of Ward 1 can contribute what they want to see for the enhancement of their city.

McMaster students are an important factor because they make up a significant part of the population.

“Students bring vibrancy into the community, they bring new ideas, they bring so much and it is great for them to be able to contribute to the community, feel like they have a place here and know that their voices matter,” said Blake Oliver, Vice President of Education.

The McMaster Students Union is working with the Participatory Budgeting committee to make sure that the students of McMaster do not go unheard. The main issue of focus for the Students Union leaders is the wellbeing of those on campus.

“21% of students [as of last year] felt like they lived in an unsafe or somewhat unsafe area, which is obviously a concern. We would like all students to feel safe,” said Oliver.

The McMaster campus makes up the majority of Ward 1, with nearly 30,000 students attending the University. With this in mind, the MSU’s goal is to affirm that all students benefit from the prospective changes being made to the streets of Hamilton.

There are over 60 projects preparing to being voted on. These include repairing and repaving roads, improvements to public trails and parks and more pedestrian crossings in well-populated areas. The number of projects that are going to be approved is to be announced.

“We have a lot of power as students to come together and vote on these things. A lot of these projects that are coming up could really benefit the population,” explained Oliver.

The MSU’s participation on the committee has brought more attention to the issues the campus and its students find significant. Overall, direct communication with those in charge will have Mac more engaged with the city of Hamilton.

“We are really excited about this project and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it. I’m really proud of all the students who submitted ideas and I think it will be a great thing for the community,” said Oliver.

The voting process for the budget is now open to the public, closing June 3. Action plans will be put together for later this year.

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